SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Friday issued an emergency order suspending the right to carry firearms in public across Albuquerque and the surrounding county for at least 30 days in the midst of a spate of gun violence.
The Democratic governor said she is expecting legal challenges but felt compelled to act in response to gun deaths, including the fatal shooting of an 11-year-old boy outside a minor league baseball stadium this week.
The firearms suspension is tied to a threshold for violent crime rates that only the Albuquerque area currently meets. Police and licensed security guards are exempt from the temporary ban.
The order calls for “civil administrative penalties availably by law” that include a fine of up to $5,000, said Caroline Sweeney, a spokeswoman for the governor.
People with concealed carry permits are still allowed transport guns to some private locations such as a gun range or gun store — provided that the firearm has a trigger lock or some other container or mechanism that makes it impossible to discharge, under terms of the order.
Lujan Grisham said the restrictions “are going to pose incredible challenges for me as a governor and as a state.”
“I welcome the debate and fight about how to make New Mexicans safer,” she said at a news conference, flanked by leading law enforcement officials, including the district attorney for the Albuquerque area.
Lujan Grisham referenced several recent shootings in Albuquerque. Among them was a road rage shooting Wednesday outside a minor league baseball stadium that killed 11-year-old Froyland Villegas and critically wounded a woman as their vehicle was peppered with bullets while crowds departed an evening game.
Last month 5-year-old Galilea Samaniego was fatally shot while asleep in a motor home. Four teens entered the mobile home community in two stolen vehicles just before 6 a.m. on Aug. 13 and opened fire on the trailer, according to police. The girl was struck in the head and later died at a hospital.
The governor also cited the August shooting death in Taos County of 13-year-old Amber Archuleta. A 14-year-old boy shot and killed the girl with his father’s gun while they were at his home.
The top-ranked Republican in the state Senate denounced the decision to restrict guns in the face of violent crime.
““A child is murdered, the perpetrator is still on the loose, and what does the governor do? She … targets law-abiding citizens with an unconstitutional gun order,” said Sen. Greg Baca of Belen.
Since 2019, Lujan Grisham has signed a raft of legislation that restricts access to guns, including a 2020 “red flag” law that allows police or sheriff’s deputies to ask a court to temporarily take away guns from people who might hurt themselves or others, an extension of background-check requirements to nearly all private gun sales and a ban on firearms possession for people under permanent protective orders for domestic violence.